A year since coronavirus swept the world as we know it off its feet, billions of conversations related to the pandemic have taken place on Twitter. From conversations that connected people to valuable information and resources, to people coming together to share their experiences, Twitter has become one of the largest repositories of public data to understand context, perceptions, and the evolution of discussions around COVID-19.
To enable more of this work, last year Twitter built and opened applications for a COVID-19 stream endpoint to help researchers and developers access data for studies that could support the public good. While new applications to the COVID-19 stream have since closed to make room for the new academic research product track, a number of people around the world continue using this data to make an impact. Below, we’re spotlighting a few stories of how researchers are using Twitter data to study the public conversation around COVID-19.
Over 100 researchers and developer teams were granted access to the COVID-19 stream after a review process. All applications were manually reviewed for four things: first, does the application demonstrate familiarity with the Twitter API and the computational resources required to handle the consumption of a high volume of unstructured data in realtime? Next, does this project require this level of data access, and it’s otherwise not possible to accomplish with the standard v1.1 API? Third, does the applicant understand the sensitivity of this data and have a clear plan of how to handle it in a safe manner compliant with our Developer Policy? Finally, are they planning to use this data to benefit the public good?
Together, those granted access represent 30 different countries, spanning nearly every continent. The majority were using this data for academic research, collectively representing 92 different academic institutions and universities around the world. About 8% of approved uses were for non-academic organizations or independent developers and researchers, who shared similar goals around using this data for good, like building dashboards, apps, tools, and resources free for the public. For example, Clarabridge leveraged this data for their Social Pulse on COVID-19, a part of their information center built to assist people in the customer experience industry and the public.
Here are just a few examples of what we’ve seen so far.
More than half of those approved for this stream are focused on studying disinformation and misinformation around the facts of coronavirus.
In most other cases, developers and researchers used this stream to understand public perceptions, sentiment, and the evolution of people’s attitudes about the pandemic over time.
The study of coronavirus and its adjacent topics will continue for quite some time. We’ve observed that at the beginning of the pandemic, much of the work was focused on symptoms, perceptions of the virus, and credibility of new information. Today, much of that conversation has shifted to the societal impacts that this pandemic has had, and perceptions of vaccinations. In all these cases, the Twitter Developer Platform continues to support developers and researchers who want to use it to improve the future.
If you are actively working a research study related to COVID-19, or you wish to work on something related in the near future, be sure to explore our product solutions for Academic Research. If you want to share what you’re doing or ask questions about the process, check out our forum.